These hours are not equal periods of time, exactly one twenty-fourth of the day. Instead, they are even divisions of the sunlit part of the day. Unlike the system used by many ceremonial magicians and astrologers to calculate planetary hours, the dawn and dusk hours used here are just before sunrise and just after sunset, leaving ten divisions of full daylight rather than twelve. At our latitude this means that on the summer solstice the "hours" can be as long as 96 minutes long, and on the winter solstice they are as short as 48 minutes. Closer to the equator the hours would vary less and further from it, they vary more. So, for instance, in Atlanta, they'd vary from around 60 to 85 minutes. In Anchorage, from 30 to 115 minutes. Exact local time at sunrise varies according to your position within your time zone, and varies slightly year to year. Sun Rise and Set times worldwide can be looked up at the Astronomical Applications Department of the US Naval Observatory. (Remeber to correct for Daylight Savings Time!)
This may seem awkward or overly complex, but it's part of the work of entraining one's body to the actual yearly cycle, which waxes and wanes. In order to truly understand the natural cycle on a soul level, one has to live it very closely, more closely than in our modern world of artificially lit warrens. The easiest way I've found to keep track of the hours is by finding out approximately how long an hour is on that month and setting an alarm for the first one, then a repeating timer to go off at intervals of the appropriate length. (I'm praying, not coordinating a space shuttle launch, so minute precision is not so important.)
If you are terribly confused at the method of calculating hours, just contact me and I'll run off a chart for the next year for your location. Really, I'm glad to help.
1) AUGE: First light. The hour before dawn, a dangerous time when ghosts walk. Associated with Pisces. The community rises at Auge from the autumnal equinox to the spring equinox, in honor of the dark time of the year, and starts with a silent prayer, alone or in the chapel. Breakfast is eaten communally; it should be simple and light. The meal prayer is said. Announcements are made and work assignments given.
2) ANATOLIA: The dawn. Associated with beginnings and possibilities, driving away the darkness. Associated with Aries. The community rises at Anatolia during the warmer months, and starts with a silent prayer, alone or in the chapel. In the winter months, this time is used for an extension of Auge. Throughout the year, morning chores are done here - taking care of animals or livestock, cleaning up after breakfast.
3) MOUSIKA: Music-hour, associated with Taurus. All gather for the morning practice of songs and chants that will be sung for the week's rituals. This need not last the entire period, and on some days may be cut short in order to do further work or chores.
4) GYMNASTIKA: Associated with Gemini. The Greeks and Romans put a great store of importance into keeping the body healthy with exercise, an attitude which fell into disrepute in the Christian era of body-hatred. We think that the ancients were correct, and that keeping the body/temple healthy is just as important as the health of the mind and spirit. So Gymnastika is the exercise hour. Whether everyone could do the same exercise communally would depend on the age and health variations in the community itself. The infirm might need a separate exercise regimen than the sturdy and athletic. On some special days, specific exercise is mandated in honor of particular gods. On others, anything from t'ai ch'i to calisthenics to daily jogging would work fine. The community should create its own exercise program to suit the physical needs of its members.
5) NYMPHE: Water-hour, for bathing and showering after Gymnastika. Associated with Cancer. Dishes and laundry should also be done at this time, as well as general cleaning.
6) MESEMBRIA: Lunch hour, around noon. Associated with Leo, it begins with the meal prayer. The food served will vary from day to day based on the Sponde ritual that follows it; certain foods honor certain gods and festivals. Cleanup after lunch, but be done by Sponde.
7) SPONDE: The first of the "libation horai", or ritual hours. Associated with Virgo, the sign of Hestia, goddess of the Vestal Virgins. The Sponde rituals run on the solar calendar. They need not take up the entire period; this will vary from day to day.
8) ELETE: First of the work-hours. For doing whatever work is necessary to the monastery. This might be agricultural or gardening, or repair, or cleaning and maintenance. Associated with Libra.
9) AKTE: Second of the work-hours. Associated with Scorpio. Elete's work can extend into Akte.
10) HESPERIS: Sacred evening "libation horai" before dusk when the final ritual is done. The rituals for Hesperis run on the lunar calendar. Associated with Sagittarius, the sign of religion.
11) DYSIS: Sunset, associated with endings and Capricorn. The evening meal-hour, eaten communally and beginning with the meal prayer. Food for Dysis will be dictated by the preceding Hesperis ritual.
12) ARKTOS: The hour after dark, associated with the Dead and the Ancestors, and Aquarius. The community need not go directly to bed after the meal during Dysis - although in the summer months it may be more practical to do so - but all work done during or after Arktos should be quiet, so as not to disturb those who are meditating. This is an hour of quiet contemplation, and silent work.
As an example, here in Hubbardston the time of the hours in 2003 would be:
At Ostara, the spring equinox:|
At Lithe, the summer solstice|
At Mabon, the fall equinox|
At Yule, the winter solstice|
[Order of the Horae]